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Becoming a Great Inclusive Educator

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Edited By Scot Danforth

Inclusive education continues to grow in popularity and acceptance in the United States. However, most teachers – general and special educators – are poorly prepared to be successful in inclusive classrooms and schools. Undoubtedly, the challenge to professionals involves the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. But inclusion requires far more. It calls upon educators to trouble everything they think they know about disability, to question their deepest ethical commitments, to take up the work of the Disability Rights Movement in the public schools, and to leap headlong into the deepest waters of the rich craft tradition of inclusive teaching. This book offers educators the guidance and resources to become great inclusive educators by engaging in a powerful process of personal and professional transformation.
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Chapter 2: Knowing Disability

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CHAPTER TWO

Knowing Disability



Guiding Questions

• Why do many talented and dedicated educators fail to include students with disabilities in their thinking about social justice in the schools?

• What is the ideology of ability? How does it impact the attitudes and behavior of principals and teachers?

• How can inclusive educators begin to confront and move beyond the limitations of the ideology of ability?

It is often best to begin learning with an appraisal of what we already know about a subject and then move optimistically forward from there. For most American educators, especially the majority who do not have disabilities, this starting place is confusion and contradiction, a batch of misguided ideas about disability and persons with disabilities that serves as a powerful obstacle to inclusion. In this chapter, I explore the misconceptions and gaps that frequently muddle my own mind and the minds of some very talented educators. The path to becoming a successful inclusive teacher necessarily encounters and re-encounters the persistent problem of what we nondisabled educators believe and know (or don’t know) about disability. Necessarily, we are knocked back on our heels, lowered to a place of deep humility. From there, stripped of arrogance, ready to learn, we can begin again.

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